An unfolding spy story
Imagine, if you can, a spy story, a well told spy story, a spy story full of intrigue and misdirection — a spy story of an attempt to take over the U.S. government. A spy story written with an ending that must be in the next book.
The story begins a few years ago, when the FBI Counterintelligence force takes an interest in the activities of a young American man who had lived in Moscow for three years, returned to the U.S. and then, in 2013. began to have secret contacts with known Russian agents posing as diplomats in the U.S. The young man gave information to the Russians, and the Russians wrote of their work to recruit the eager man into serving their interests.
Time passes, and, in 2016, the young man, who now openly praises Russia, reaches out to a presidential campaign to offer his services as an “election consultant.” Though the young man is unknown to politics, lacking any background or relevant experience, the campaign welcomes him as a foreign policy advisor — an odd opportunity for someone lacking any background, but, nonetheless, the man finds himself advising the candidate and working daily with the campaign staff.
Within four months, the young man has arranged a trip to Russia for himself, but writes to the campaign that he would surrender his planned trip if the candidate would take the trip in his place. The campaign defers, grants the young man permission to make the trip to Russia, and off the man goes to give a speech in Moscow about improving U.S./Russian relations.
While in Moscow, the young man meets Russian officials and a powerful advisor to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, suggesting that, if the candidate should be elected president, Russia could expect U.S. economic sanctions to be lifted. The young man later denies these meetings, but is ultimately unable to avoid the fact that the meetings did take place, when the meetings are confirmed by a Yahoo journalist.
Later that summer, the young man is granted a meeting with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kizlyar, at the party convention, a meeting he also initially denies, but later affirms.
By the fall of that year, the earlier meeting in Russia with officials and the businessman close to Putin become public and the young man immediately leaves the campaign. Soon after, the campaign claims the young man was just a “coffee boy” and that he was never “really” a part of the campaign. By winter, campaign officials cannot remember his name at all.
In December, the young man makes another trip to Russia, the details of which have not been made public.
That should be the end of this engaging story, but it’s not.
Recently, the Republican chair of the intelligence committee constructed a memo that was made public questioning why this innocent young man, who is now reportedly but a child who served coffee and met with high-level Russian officials, would ever have been a subject of an FBI investigation.
How could, the memo asks, such an innocent young man ever come to the attention of anyone protecting American interests? It is all so unfair, so it must be a product of dirty politics.
Now comes the candidate, who, as it turns out, was the beneficiary of the Russian help in the 2016 elections. The candidate, now president, tweets in the open, in public, that he is angry at his own attorney general for not investigating our FBI intelligence for their investigation of the young man.
Yes, of course, why would anyone think the young man acted questionably? Because, after all, this all has to be fiction, for no U.S. president would seek to undermine the FBI, the Department of Justice and his own attorney general just to protect this innocent coffee boy who has the ear of high level Russians, right?
Perhaps Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller will write the next book and tell us how the story ends.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.